Every year I am asked why we just do events for children and, in particular, why we don’t do pond dipping for adults, and every year I explain that we do – so I will particularly draw your attention to “Pond and River Dipping for Adults” on April Saturday 8th , 2pm – 4pm and July Wednesday 18th, 7pm – 9pm, as well as Bob’s “Mid-Summer Bugs“, guided walk with an invertebrate focus on June Thursday 21st, 2-4pm!
Most events, including these three, require booking in advance – email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01425 472760 and leave your name, contact details (a mobile number is always handy for last minute hiccups if you do book by email) and how many places you require.
See you soon!
Pond dipping – not just for children! Images by Rex Waygood
I was down to do a guided walk at Blashford in the morning, but it was so hot that two of the walkers cried off and all we managed was a short amble along the Dockens Water to Goosander hide. At least going through the trees by the river was a bit cooler and the Goosander hide was quite busy with a fair few sand martin coming into the nesting wall. There are also now hundreds of greylag and Canada geese on Ibsley Water, come to moult their flight feathers on the relative safety of the open water. Unlike ducks, geese become completely flightless for quite a while when they moult so they have to seek out somewhere safe, but also with accessible food.
On the way to the hide we saw a few bee orchid and several butterflies, including a couple of summer brood comma, my first small skipper of the year and a few marbled white. One of the participants on the walk told me that they are also known as “Half-mourning”, something I had not heard before.
marbled white on ox-eye daisy
Sometime ago I posted that we had some puss moth caterpillars, they were quite small then, but now they have grown a lot and today I was dividing them up into three groups to make it easier to keep up with feeding them. They are very fine caterpillars and get ever more so with age.
Nearly caught up! Day 13, a Monday and a wet one at that. I was leading a guided walk at Blashford in the morning and was a little concerned that we might struggle to see very much. I need not have worried, we started at the Centre with a quick look at the moths and then, as the school group were elsewhere, checked out the tanks and trays of creatures caught in the pond. Before we even got around to seeing any birds we had clocked up several dozen species and, thanks to the shelter, we had not even got wet.
As often seems to be the case the weather improved a bit later in the day and before going to lock up I checked out the sides of the Centre pond looking for dragon and damselflies. There were lots of newly emerged damselflies all around the pond edge with some stems having several exuviae showing how many had already emerged.
newly emerged damselfly
signs of a mass emergence
The masses of immobile soft-bodied insects attract predators and the local robin was having a feast. Even when they are able to fly they need to be wary about where they land as there are ambushes all over the place. I spotted this crab spider lurking on a hemlock water-dropwort flower head, when I first saw it she was just finishing off a common blue damselfly.
Working with the volunteers all morning pollarding and coppicing, we made great progress and have almost completed the area to be cut this winter. It may seem like winter will go on for ages now, but within a couple of weeks we could be more or less at the end of winter work if it warms again. I usually find that the winter work program ends, not because we have completed the work but because the winter runs out.
In the afternoon we had a guided walk and a liitle while before we were about to set of the sun came out. We started at the Tern hide, it was so warmed by the sun that sitting there was actually very pleasant, the lack of wind also helped. We saw the drake ruddy duck but failed to see the grey plover or barnacle geese, although they were there again today.
I don’t often get to the Woodland hide in the middle part of the day, so going there today was something of a treat. There were no particularly unusual birds, but the lesser redpolls, siskin, nuthatch and just sheer number of birds up close are always worth seeing.
Then we went on to the Ivy South hide, which was particularly good today the number and variety of ducks looked very fine in the bright sunshine. Over a hundred shoveler and really close views of gadwall and wigeon were highlights and no matter how many times I see them I always enjoy watching these birds.
Unfortunately the Ivy North hide rather let us dow, the bittern had been seen well earlier, but was hiding well when we got there and the best sighting was of two roe deer grazing the sedges just to the right of the hide.